History, Culture & Craftsmanship

THE OZARK MOUNTAINS of Missouri and Arkansas have been a crossroads since ancient times while even modernization bypassed our mountain plateau for decades. Even 20th century tourism made traditional arts and crafts a feature to be preserved. Settled predominately by hill folk of German and Scots-Irish stock, an awareness of Ozarks culture remains

The Blacksmith

The Blacksmith. BY JOSHUA HESTON Unique. There is something unique about our perception of blacksmithing. As Buddy Ebsen noted (below), the blacksmith was “one of the most essential of all the pioneer craftsmen.” Perhaps that is why it figures so predominately in American culture of the 19th century. And while the art was ubiquitous in…

German Culture in the Ozarks

German Culture in the Ozarks by Joshua Heston The year was 1830. Across Germany, folks of all walks of life were reading the work of writer Gottfried Duden. His book Bericht über eiene Reise nach den westlichen Staaten Nordamerika’s made an enormous impact in Continental Europe — and consequently the United States — and for…

Knife Making

Plate 1. Ozark knives against rabbit skins and oak leaves. State of the Ozarks Photo Archive. Knife Making by Joshua Heston Plate 2. Jehu Knife Detail, May 30, 2014. Like fire and ice, the beauty of a hand-crafted knife captivates the imagination. An age-old art, knife making hearkens of generations past. Knives are essential tools,…

Ozark History

German Culture in the Ozarks

German Culture in the Ozarks by Joshua Heston The year was 1830. Across Germany, folks of all walks of life were reading the work of writer Gottfried Duden. His book Bericht über eiene Reise nach den westlichen Staaten Nordamerika’s made an enormous impact in Continental Europe — and consequently the United States — and for…

The 37th Annual War Eagle Craft Fair

The 37th Annual War Eagle Craft Fair by Joshua Heston and Dale Grubaugh It all started with a heavy rain. The clouds rolled over the Ozark hills along with unseasonably cold temperatures. Plate 2. Downpours hit the high country of the Boston Mountains — the headwaters of the White River, the Kings River, and the…

Cushaw Pumpkins

Plate 1. Shmoo In The Cradle (Jonathan’s Pumpkin or White Cushaw), February 5, 2008. As a side note, this particular cushaw weighed in at 20.5 pounds. Now that’s prolific! — the editor Cushaw by Donny Heston Unsuspectingly, I took a packet of Jere Gettle’s white cushaw seeds and planted four hills, each a hoe-handle length…

Arcane Ozarks

Murder Rocks

Murder Rocks BY JOSHUA HESTON Partway up Pine Mountain, just a few miles south of Kirbyville, a stand of elephant rocks rise to the west of the old Springfield-Harrison Road. Nowadays, they are hard to see (the elevation of the new road took care of that) and harder to get to (they are on private…

Ice Roses

Ice Roses BY JOSHUA HESTON If you find yourself traipsing about an Ozark hillside sometime this winter, it might be a good idea to watch where you’re going. Otherwise, you may put your foot down on an ice rose. Ice roses, also known as frost flowers, are rare natural formations. They form at certain altitudes…

The Red Fern

The Red Fern BY JOSHUA HESTON If you search the internet carefully, you’ll learn the truth. Truth that red ferns exist only the realm of cryptobotany. What does that mean? It means the red fern is a figment. Made-up. A bit of literary imagining. A myth. Sort of like Bigfoot. But prettier. That’s if you…